— by CHAS BLANKENSHIP —
Since its inception, the “Slasher” sub-genre of horror has racked up an impressive body count … priding itself on the inventive and “out-of-nowhere’ kills that fans have come to expect.
From simple stabbings to severed limbs and beyond, audiences have thrilled, chilled and cringed at the dismemberment of victim after victim at the hands of a favorite serial murderer or psychopathic madman.
These are, in my opinion, the five special ‘Slasher’ kills that stand out above all others …
#5: “Sleeping Bag Whack-A-Slut!” — from “Friday the 13th: Part 7 — The New Blood” (John Carl Buechler, 1988)
You’d think after a few incidents (six to be exact) that those horny teens would steer clear of Camp Crystal Lake … oh what fools these mortals be! For the seventh (!!!) installment in the “Friday the 13th” series, Jason Voorhees is back again for yet another round of “Pin the Machete in the Kid” — only this time he might have met his match when faced with Tina, a girl with unbridled telekinetic powers. But before the final confrontation, Voorhees has to get some killing done and, let me tell ya, arguably no kill in the entire series is as revered and praised as the classic moment here where Jason hacks his way through a tent — catching innocent (and stupid) Judy who, for some reason, still believes that if you’re covered the monster can’t get you. Climbing into her sleeping bag, Jason obliges by taking the sleeping bag-incarcerated Judy, dragging her outside and slamming her (still in the bag mind you) into a tree, killing her instantly and putting an end to her annoying screams. That was cold, Jason … but awesome!
#4: “Bedroom Geyser” — from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (Wes Craven, 1984)
Over the years, Freddy Krueger became prone to losing his sadistic nature — becoming more and more a figment of fun with one-liners, cartoon-character victims and deaths that, as a result of Freddy being a master of dreams, got absurd and out of hand (the “Roach Motel” in “Nightmare 4” anyone?). But for writer/director/creator Wes Craven’s original film, Fred was very much a horrifying dream stalker in his debut — and despite the veil of reality slipping given the film’s premise, his murders were vicious, real enough and to the point … or rather, four razor-sharp points. But perhaps the grandest of Krueger’s kills is that of young Glen Lantz. Failing to heed Nancy’s warning of “Don’t Fall Asleep,” Glen conks out to the sound of his portable TV signing off, simply laying on his bed — but its too late. Freddy’s gloved arm reaches from the bed, pulling Glen into a sunken pit of black — a releasing a geyser of Glen’s blood spewing upwards and cascading from the ceiling! It was bizarre enough to work as a dream kill without losing its sense of threat … confirming Freddy Krueger as the evil bad ass he is.
#3: “A Stain-Glass Heart to Heart” — from “Suspiria” (Dario Argento, 1977)
Italian horror meastro Dario Argento is known for his fascinations with the occult and the supernatural — and while all of his films are amazing, “Suspiria” is perhaps his master stroke. And early one in the film, the audience experiences what has often been called the most gruesome death scene ever put to film. A young dance student flees from Madam Blancs school into the rain-soaked night, finding herself in a hotel with a friend … but the evil she tried to escape from has tracked her down, catapulting her into a dizzying murder in which she’s stabbed through the chest (and one more through her own pulsing heart!), hung by a cord and thrown down through the hotel’s giant stain-glass roof, where the shards of glass finish both her and her friend off. It’s often forgotten in the realm of the “slasher,” most likely because some people might not consider the film to be of the same sub-genre — but once you do see it, it stays with you!
#2: “Halloween Night, 1963” — from “Halloween” (John Carpenter, 1978)
So simple and yet so brilliant, director John Carpenter’s “Halloween” is my personal favorite horror film, and while its kills may not be the most extravagant, they’re among the most effective for me. From the iconic “ghost” that chokes Lynda with a telephone cord to Michael pinning Bob on the kitchen wall, Carpenter and DP Dean Cundey paint a portrait of silent, black death that is universally primal and terrifying. But the most iconic of Myers’ kills happens before he even sets his sights on the famous “Captain Kirk” mask — as he proceeds to kill his older sister Judith on Halloween night, 1963. The entire sequence, shot in first person, was the first to create the notion of seeing through the killer’s eyes, a staple for “slashers” nowadays. The chiming of the clock, Carpenter’s dread-soaked synth beats, Michael putting on the notorious cown mask as he brutally stabs semi-naked Judith to death. All part of a visual whole that, early on, tells the audience one simple fact: this boy is evil incarnate.
#1: “The Shower Scene” — from “Psycho” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
While many have argued that “Halloween” was the beginning of the “slasher film” and, as far as the usual trappings and elements of a masked killer and hormone crazed kids, I’d agree. But in truth, the nucleus of the sub-genre was crafted by none other than Alfred Hitchcock with his 1960 film “Psycho.” Always one to be ahead of his time, Hitchcock predicted the transition of horror from European Gothic Romanticism into our own backyards. And of all the horrors presented in that film, none where as iconic as the murder of Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane — simply dubbed “The Shower Scene” — in which she is stabbed to death in the shower by the proposed “Mother” of Motel keeper Norman Bates. The scene is visceral, notorious and uniquely crafted with dynamic editing and cinematography. The knife never pierces Leigh’s body, but merely glides across it in a stabbing motion as a visual representation of the act, which for many people works even better than the gore-fests of today. It still stands the test of time, for me personally, as the greatest “slasher’ kill of all time.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section.
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